Contractors must account for numerous aspects of employee safety

How necessary is workers' compensation insurance? In many states, it is required for businesses to have some policy in place. While some companies may feel this is a superfluous protection, only meant for clumsy workers, there are far more issues at hand.

For example, employees at U.S. Steel plants in Michigan and Indiana joined in a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuit, claiming that time spent putting on and taking off safety equipment is time spent "changing clothes." Under the FLSA, working hours exclude "any time spent in changing clothes" at the beginning or end of the workday that is excluded from "measured working time" under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). 

The employees claim that their protective gear - fire-retardant jackets, fire-retardant pants and steel-toed boots - should not be considered clothes, and that they should be compensated for time spent changing in and out of those items. 

"Although the appellate court ruled that some of the safety items, such as the goggles and earplugs are not clothes, it affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the claim, reasoning that time required to put on and take off the nonclothes items was de minimis and thus not compensable under the FLSA," explained a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) article.

While not all businesses will need to distinguish between clothes and protective gear, it is necessary to understand all guidelines for employee protection. Furthermore, having a comprehensive workers' compensation insurance policy is important for the company itself. Legal fees can be expensive, and having the right coverage can help organizations maintain daily operations, regardless of extenuating circumstances.

Not only can commercial insurance specialists help business owners find the right policy, they will ensure that organization heads understand what they need to be covered for. Business insurance for contractors must take into account workers' needs while still maintaining a company's bottom line.




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